Presented on Wednesday, June 4 at the Quarry Farm Barn. Martin Zehr, Ph.D., J.D., is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Kansas City, Missouri. He has been an avid Twain reader, collector and amateur scholar for over twenty years and is presently a member of the Board of Directors of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum Foundation in Hannibal, Missouri.
Mark Twain and the Chinese are not generally linked by readers, but a close look at his writings during his authorial career reveals a developing empathy and emerging political awareness that mirrors his well-known writings regarding African-Americans in the post-Civil War era. Literary clues, in the form of letters, short stories, and essays, as well as the rediscovered major work, “The Treaty With China,” leave no doubt that Sam Clemens’s observations of Chinese immigrants in the West and the predations of the major powers in China in the latter half of the nineteenth century stirred the “pen warmed up in hell” to action, much of the time in writings that contrasted sharply with the widely-held views of his countrymen toward the Chinese.